SEATTLE — With time all but run out on the regular season, Clint Dempsey isn’t about to let a shoulder sprain keep him off the field.
The Seattle Sounders forward suffered the injury two games ago against the Portland Timbers, continued to play another 65 minutes or so and followed that up with a 90-minute performance against FC Dallas.
“I can play,” Dempsey said on Friday, ahead of the Sounders' regular-season finale against the LA Galaxy on Sunday (9 pm ET, ESPN). “Obviously, the Portland game when I did it, I shouldn’t have kept playing. But I’d been out for such a significant amount of time with the hamstring, I stayed out there and tried to play through it. After that, it has gotten easier to play through it.”
Whether it was international call-ups, various injuries or simply adjusting to life in a new city, Dempsey has been faced with one obstacle after another since joining the Sounders in early August. That’s at least part of why he remains scoreless and without an assist over his first 561 minutes, among the longest scoring droughts of his professional career.
Those struggles are also a major reason he’s continuing to play through pain.
“You have to go out there and play,” he said. “It’s important to get a rhythm, a consistency with your team. … The most important thing is for the guys that are playing to have a good understanding of each other and know the way we play and who is that personnel who’s going to be consistent.”
Dempsey has not missed a training session despite the injury, which seems to be paying off. Knowing that he should be available has allowed the Sounders to build a game plan with him in mind, but he’ll still face a wealth of pressure while trying to lead the club in their season finale.
"You come off an offseason and you’re expected to score a hat trick every game," Seattle midfielder Brad Evans said of Dempsey. "That’s what everyone expected,. But it’s difficult to integrate yourself into a team. It doesn’t matter how good you are or where you’re at.
“Then he picked up an injury and we went on a slump, and it’s difficult. You want to score so bad and we’ve gotta do our part in helping him out, and vice versa. I think things are only going to get better. As guys get used to his style of play. He gets used to the guys around him. That’s the most important part.”